Monday 5 June 2006

Men in sequinned leotards are stranger than fiction.

Mark Steyn writes about Abba, and reveals what can only be described as Amazing Facts:

Benny and Bjorn ... were brought together four decades ago by Stig Anderson, former lead singer of Stig Anderson and his Mashed Creampuffs

His Mashed Creampuffs? Good. Carry on.

Unfortunately for Stig, Abba was also the name of Sweden's largest tuna-canning company. ... But Abba the fish canner agreed to share the name provided that Abba the group was "clean, well-behaved and successful".

Yes, Abba were so clean-cut as a result of their contractual obligations to a canned fish corporation. Well, being clean-cut isn't so bad. At least they weren't obliged to eat tuna in their videos or anything. Not that that would have made their videos significantly stranger.

Bjorn had ambitions to write his own material and with Stig collaborated on "Froken Frederiksson", a song about a man who makes the mistake of wandering on to his balcony in a dressing-gown on a breezy day and, after a sudden gust, finds himself reported to the vice squad.

Now, that is a song. If anyone has an English translation of the lyrics to Froken Frederiksson, please get in touch. Please.

Stig did a deal to start taking payments from the other side of the Iron Curtain in oil, which the group then sold on the Rotterdam spot market. The oil-price collapse in the early Eighties caused Stig tax problems and nearly resulted in the group going to jail.

This is beginning to make Fleetwood Mac's biography look tame.

Not for nothing did former EU Commissioner Chris Patten, the late Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh and the Deputy French Foreign Minister Charles Josselin perform a ten-minute Abba medley at the 2000 Asia Regional Forum in Bangkok.

Er, right. Blimey. What?

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